Background of the CommUNITY/ComUNIDAD Event:

This CommUNITY/ComUNIDAD event originated as a result of the Windham Youth CORE’s newest initiative: “Certified Community”. Certified Community, which was created in the summer of 2017, began as a way for the Youth CORE to market our own locally-made products such as our Sofrito and Frog Fire/Fuego de Rana hot sauce, while educating the community about the importance of investing locally. However, the initiative has since grown to recognize other businesses, people, and programs working to improve Windham’s local community by investing their time, money, and efforts into the local food system, economy, and community. CommUNITY/ ComUNIDAD is the first awards ceremony that will recognize pioneers in not only the food system, but the community as a whole. Ruby Rodriguez, one of the key people in the organizing of the event is most excited to commemorate those who have made a change in Windham’s local community: “I am most excited to see the inspiration. People will get to reach out into their community and see that someone is watching, and they are not doing it for nothing.”

~Malakai James Poulin, Former Windham Youth CORE Member

2020 Winners/ Ganadores de 2020:

José Camacho, Ana María Falcón García, James Flores,  Kristin Fortier, Leah Ralls, Rose Reyes, and José Salas.

2020 “Certified Community” Businesses/Negocios “Comunidad Certificada”:

Bliss Marketplace, Eminence Ink, Not Only Juice, Tacos la Rosa, Yoga on North

2018 Winners

Sister Mary Jude

Grow Windham cordially welcomes the Director of the Apostolado Hispano Diocesano, Sister Mary Jude Lazarus, SCMS. Sister Mary Jude has consecrated her life with a total gift to God in her mission as a religious person. Her Christian vocation has been profound, and she has invited us to believe in God and to discover our gifts from God. Sister Mary Jude serves the Hispanic community in multiple ways according to the times, places and forms to help others. She has contributed over time to the improvement of out Christian community. She strives for us to live with dignity, freedom, and solidarity through her profound spirit of love for each family to be happy with faith and the love of God. To walk together with Jesus and with the responsibility inside and outside of the church.
–Aida Alavez

Vania Galicia-Bacilio

The first time I met Vania was in 2015, she was a guest at our youth program, working in the garden at Lauter Park. I was struck – by her warmth and composure, and how naturally she gained the respect and trust of those around her. Vania rapidly grew as a leader in the Windham Youth CORE, helping to guide the development of the program, and ultimately winning second prize in a national youth leaders competition. Since then she has become an activist in our community, organizing youth and adults in support of immigrant rights. As if that weren’t enough, she also managed to win a full scholarship to ECSU, where she has just completed her first year. Vania is a true leader – she is dedicated and compassionate, inspires by her example, and holds the community in the center of everything she does. Thank you, Vania – it’s an honor to learn from you.
— Sally Milius

Ilda Ray

Ilda Ray has been volunteering at Windham Schools for many years. She went through different trainings with the Family Liaisons – including Common Sense Parenting, People Empowering People, and Parents Supporting Educational Excellence. She has served on PTOs, School Governing Councils and the Parent Community University Advisory Team. She is a major fundraiser for the Windham Schools especially with her success in bringing the Harlem Wizards to Windham Public Schools over consecutive years. Just recently she was elected to, and has been actively serving on the Windham Public Schools Board of Education. In addition she is the newly appointed Chair of the Board Of Education Policy Committee.
–Bill Stover

Rose Laurie Field-Santiago

“It’s all about the kids!” “The kids, the families, the community!” These words are what you frequently hear from Laurie Rose as she talks about her involvement through the Healing Community Church where for many years she has been the leader of the Youth Warriors group. Laurie Rose gives herself wholeheartedly as she both guides and is guided by the young people she spends time with. Together they have fund-raised and worked hard to provide community service at the Covenant Soup Kitchen, No Freeze Shelter, Special Olympics Swim Meets, Family and Community Expo, leading their own youth church services, and are always looking for ways to give back to their community. Laurie Rose knows how to draw upon multiple resources to aid youth in finding ways to further their education as well as assisting them with their technology needs. She has an abundance of positive energy and big heart to match. The community is all the better for her many contributions!
–Karen Ravenelle-Bloom

Sacha Gomez-Alicia

The staff of Windham Youth Services has had the pleasure of seeing Sacha grow into the community leader that she is today. The road for her has not always been smooth, but she has always been up for the challenge: she dares to pursue her dreams and is unstoppable. Sacha has been a student, participant of our positive youth development initiative, a staff member of Windham Youth Services. If you don’t know Sacha, we can assure you that it is an honor and a privilege to know her. She inspires and encourages young and old. Our community is enriched by having her: She truly makes Windham grow!!!!!!
–Patricia Calvo and Linda Stein

Jean de Smet

Jean de Smet is an advocate, activist, community organizer, creative thinker, and passionate believer in the importance of environmental sustainability. She is always the first to roll up her sleeves and get to work on whatever cause or issue needs addressing. Jean served as the First Selectman of the Town of Windham and has been well known for her efforts in developing and sustaining Willimantic’s 3rd Thursday Street Festivals. Jean has served on many boards and committees in Windham and the region, further evidence of her civic engagement and commitment to the community. Windham and Willimantic are lucky to have Jean de Smet on our side .
– Kim Armstrong Silcox

Dagmar Noll

I am honored to introduce my dear friend and colleague, and co-conspirator in changing the world, Dagmar Noll. Dagmar signs her emails with: “Authenticity, Honesty, Community”. Those three simple words say so much about what Dagmar works to achieve. Authenticity, Honesty, Community. Can any of us achieve those goals every day? Probably not, it’s a really high bar. But it is the most important work that we can undertake. Authenticity, Honesty, Community. This is what Dagmar brings to her work; whether as a member of the Windham Town Council or as a community activist and organizer; whether Dagmar makes real, human contact with us, or works through social media; and when Dagmar leads the Trash Mob or plays the fiddle. Authenticity, Honesty, Community. Words to live by. Thank you Dagmar, for being a role model, and for working so hard to make Windham such a wonderful place to live.
-Jean de Smet

2018 “Certified Community” Business Winners:

Willimantic Food Co-op
Dragon’s Blood Elixir
O.L. Willard Company
Pleasant Pizza
Tony’s Pizza
Cash True Value Hardware